February 27, 2011

Ford F-150 Air Bag Recall, a Potential Texas Lemon Law Case

Last Wednesday, Ford announced that it is recalling its 2004-2006 F-150 trucks due to potential defective airbags (recall campaign number 11V107000). Ford did the recall voluntarily under mounting pressure from the National Highway Travel Safety Administration. This airbag issue is consistent with my lemon law offices' awareness of increased calls from clients who reported similar airbag issues regarding their Ford F-150 trucks.

According to records, the airbags may randomly deploy, even without any major collision impacts. Although Ford contends that this airbag defect represents only a "minor safety risk" to consumers, a quick search on NHTSA's website shows that there has been reports of vehicle owners "being knocked unconscious" by the faulty air bag. Other owners reported a broken tooth, along with abrasions, contusions and cuts throughout the entire upper body.

This recall is not the only lemon issue that Ford is facing in regards to the same 2005-2006 F-150 trucks. It appears that the same trucks are subject to another recall for defective brakes. As of now, according to the Office of Defects Investigations, there has been "4,465 subject vehicles" that have reported warranty claims relating to this defect. The number of vehicles affects by this faulty brake system is more likely higher.

Here is a brief summary of NHTSA's recall report on the 2005 airbag and brake recall Download file

February 16, 2010

Ford Lemon Law Buyback and Refund Information

I was researching on Ford's Lemon Law statistics yesterday and stumbled upon an interesting article relating to Ford's Lemon Law buyback and repurchase policies on vehicles. The attached Ford response occurred toward the end of 1995 and was sparked by a petition filed against Ford by consumer groups via the Federal Trade Commission.

In this article, Ford answers some questions regarding its buyback policies and compliance with various state lemon law requirements. The article reveals that in 1994, Ford pays its dealers (including Lincoln-Mercury) approximately $400 to $700 per vehicle repurchase or buyback. Of course, this figure may have increased now since it is currently well over a decade from 1994.

The article further states Ford's denial against claims that it participates in lemon laundering. In the article, Ford admits that approximately 95% of its lemon law buyback or replacement vehicles ends up in auction, whereby it will later be re-introduced back to the stream of commerce and in the hands of consumers in the pre-owned or used car markets.

When asked how many vehicles are refunded or repurchased each year nationally, Ford refuses to disclose such information, citing confidentiality. In my opinion, it looks like Ford has something to hide...if Ford is so proud of the reliability of its products, then why be afraid to share this vital information? I say that the state of California and Texas, two of largest automobile markets in the US, push for stronger disclosure legislation and force Ford to disclose more information.

For the text of the article, go here... Download file

September 25, 2009

Ford's Third China Plant may inevitably produce some lemon cars

Amid a decline in car production and sales in the United States, Ford recently made the announcement and is currently working on building its third car plant in China. As in any car plant, the production of vehicles that may be lemon cars subject to the Texas Lemon Law is inevitable.

The real question is whether the number of defective lemon cars produced at this new car plant will be disproportionately higher than Ford cars made in other plants or countries. It is a matter of quality control and I hope that this new China plant will be better than most products I have experienced with that comes from China. Lead and toxic chemicals in children toys come to mind...

This new third Ford car plant has the capacity to build approximately 145,000 to 150,000 cars each years. As speculation, a percentage of those cars may eventually enter into Texas' stream of commerce.

If you drive a Ford that requires multiple visit to the dealership for repairs within the first 6 months of ownership, you may want to call up a lemon law attorney to learn what your rights are.

August 24, 2009

Ford Dealer's lemon clunker problem

Even though President Obama enthusiastically praised the "Cash for Clunkers" program as being a major success; lemon-wise, it looks like many new vehicle dealers such as those who sell Ford cars are getting a taste of their own medicine. Instead of lemon cars, Ford car dealers find themselves dealing with a lemon clunker problem.

Due to shortages in personnel in the "Clunker" program, many Ford dealers have yet to be paid back by the government in the form of rebates. Many Ford dealers, along with other dealers of car manufacturers such as Chrysler and Mazda, have decided that they will not honor the program anymore.

The Clunker program ended tonight,...but who knows when Ford dealers will be paid. In the eyes of car dealers, so far, the program appears to be a lemon dud.

August 17, 2009

The Dealership has been really nice and cooperative, but I still have a new lemon car!

As a lemon law attorney who personally screens my own potential client inquiries, I get calls from folks who wait until it is too late to file a Texas Lemon Law claim because they wanted to give the dealership or car manufacturer (such as Ford or Chrysler) another chance to repair the truck or SUV.

I hear this line all the time and really think it should be written into a play or movie. It goes like this: "the dealership has been very professional and cooperative, but for some reason, the problem still exists."

Call me pessimistic, but my suspicion is that the dealership representatives and service managers are trained to be polite to the consumer to buy time and stall. The rationale is that you would not open a lemon law claim against an entity that you have good feelings about; or perhaps that when you do decide to open a lemon law claim, that it would be too late to do so, because you've spent a good chunk of time within the deadline period being treated kindly and smothered by the dealership.

Lesson to note: it's nice that the dealership is nice to you, but when it comes to asserting your rights, you should do it as soon as possible!

March 7, 2008

Hawaii Lemon Law results for 2007

The state of Hawaii recently released it's Lemon Law results for 2007. In total, there were about $490,000 worth of replacements and refunds. The program requires that consumer participate in SCAP, also known as the State certified Arbitration Program.

Of the vehicles that were replaced under the state lemon law, Ford and General Motors ranked the highest while Toyota and Honda ranks the lowest. Nissan is still in the middle, improving in 9th place, compared to 2006's 14th place.

Personally, I feel that $490,000 worth of lemon car repurchase or replacement for a relatively sizable state like Hawaii is a small amount. If an average car is $20,000, then only 24.5 cars won a lemon law case in Hawaii. This leads me to believe that perhaps many lemon claims may have been rejected because of Hawaii's strict lemon law requirements...or perhaps because the requirements are implemented irregularly.

February 15, 2008

The Texas Lemon Law hates nice guys (consumers) and I agree

Dave, a fellow internet blogger, recently wrote about his experience of how a consumer can be put in a disadvantaged position for being a nice person. I must say, I do agree and hear about these situations more often then not.

In a nutshell, Dave experienced defects on his Ford truck early on during his ownership of the vehicle. He brought the vehicle in at least 7 times to the Ford service center. Each time, they repaired something, but the problems keep coming back. Now that Dave's warranty is about to expire, he finds himself with limited options.

The reason why his options are limited is because the Texas Lemon Law hates nice guys. Well, maybe it does not really hate nice guys, but it is certainly unfriendly to consumers who have a legitimate reasons for not pursing their claim early.

The law requires that you file a claim with the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) within the first 24,000 miles or 24 months, whichever occurs first. After you miss that deadline, you have a 6 months grace period. After that, your options may be significantly more limited.

Some lessons to learn from Dave's experience includes,... file your lemon law claim early! If you do not file early, at least speak to a lemon lawyer like myself as early as possible to know your rights and what to look out for. My parents always tell me, "the worse thing you could do is wait until after you've broken the dish to find out the ceramics are fragile -- ask first and ask early."

To read more about Dave's experience and article, go here.

September 20, 2007

Jefferson County, Texas: Ford dealership sued over a lemon truck

Mike Stegall is suing Raiford Motors, an authorized Ford dealership, for selling him a lemon F50 pickup truck. According to the pleadings that was filed in the 136th Judicial District court, Stegall alleges that the vehicle was subject to repairs for at least 10 times since it was purchased. It appears that the case is currently pending in Judge Milton Shuffield's courtroom.

Stegall's causes of action stems from both the Texas Lemon Law and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). Stegall is asking the court to award him damages in the cost of the truck, damages under the DTPA, and court costs.

To learn more about the suit, go here. If you are in a similar situation as Mr. Stegall, then feel free to contact my Texas lemon law office for a free case review.